Tags: Polls | Presidential History | coolidge | harding | reagan | roosevelt

4 US Presidents Have Improved Their Party's Electoral Standing

Image: 4 US Presidents Have Improved Their Party's Electoral Standing
President Warren Gamaliel Harding, inaugurated in 1921. While he enchanced his party’s standing, he died before completing his first term, on August 2, 1923. (AP Photo)

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Tuesday, 01 Aug 2017 11:36 AM Current | Bio | Archive

In terms of building their party’s electoral strength throughout the nation, the three most successful presidents of the last 100 years were Franklin D. Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, and Ronald Reagan. Only one other president — Warren G. Harding — improved his party’s position, but he died of a heart attack before completing a single term.

These findings come from an analysis of data created by Sean Trende and David Byler. Their index of partisan electoral strength "is the sum of five parts: presidential performance, House performance, Senate performance, gubernatorial performance and state legislative performance." The scale theoretically can go from plus 250 when the Republicans control everything to minus 250 when the Democrats control everything. In the past 100 years, the GOP’s best year was a plus 79 in 1920. The Democrats did best in 1936 with an index score of minus 119.

To determine the performance of each president, I calculated gains or losses for each president by measuring the party’s strength before they were elected and comparing the results to when they left office. So, for example, President Obama's performance was measured by comparing the strength of the Democratic Party when he left office to its strength when he began campaigning after the 2006 elections.

The results are summarized below (positive numbers indicate that the president’s party gained strength; negative numbers indicate the opposite). Not surprisingly, by this metric, Herbert Hoover had the worst performance of any president after presiding over the Great Depression:

RasmussenGraph1for812017Pres.png

It is difficult to separate the impact of presidents who shared a term in office. One way to address this is to look at the combined results of, say, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Combining those totals presents the following results:

RasmussenGraph2for812017BallotpedNooDay.png

While some have suggested that Barack Obama’s time in office was particularly bad for Democrats, it was actually a bit better than the eight years when John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson lived in the White House.

More broadly, it’s interesting to note that most of the two-term presidencies suffered roughly the same fate. Truman, Bush, Clinton, and Eisenhower all saw a decline between 44 and 49 points. The Nixon/Ford combo did a bit better, while Obama and the Kennedy/Johnson administration did a bit worse. But all were in the same general range. That’s what makes the positive results of the Roosevelt, Coolidge, and Reagan presidencies stand out so distinctly.

Following the 2016 elections, Trende and Byler found that the Republican Party is now in the strongest position it has been since Coolidge left office in 1928.

Additional information on this topic will be provided in the near future.

Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day is published by Ballotpedia. Each weekday, Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day explores interesting and newsworthy topics at the intersection of culture, politics, and technology.

Scott Rasmussen is a Senior Fellow for the Study of Self-Governance at the King’s College in New York and an Editor-At-Large for Ballotpedia, the Encyclopedia of American Politics. His most recent book, "Politics Has Failed: America Will Not," was published by the Sutherland Institute in May.To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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In terms of building their party’s electoral strength, the three most successful presidents of the last 100 years were Franklin D. Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, and Ronald Reagan. Only one other president, Warren G. Harding, improved his party’s position.
coolidge, harding, reagan, roosevelt
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2017-36-01
Tuesday, 01 Aug 2017 11:36 AM
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